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James Shields: The Pitcher Nobody Is Talking About

James Shields came to the big leagues in 2006 with the (Devil) Rays, starting 21 games and finishing 6-8 with an ERA of 4.84. His career numbers currently stand at 59-52 with an ERA of 4.14 and a 846/229 K/BB ratio.

His best season came in 2008, when he posted a record of 14-8 and an ERA 3.56. However, last season his ERA jumped to 5.18 and he lost a career high 15 games.

But things have finally turned around for Shields in a big way. He has started the 2011 campaign 3-1 with an impressive 2.01 ERA and 44/12 K/BB ratio. He also has compiled two complete games and one shutout and has the Rays fighting for contention in the AL East.

During the off-season the Rays lost the entire core of their team with the departure of Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, Carl Crawford, and Carlos Pena. The bottom three starters in the Rays rotation (Davis, Hellickson, Sonnanstine) are only a combined 46-41. To put this into perspective, Rays ace David Price has  a 34-16 record in just two full seasons. However, manager Joe Maddon believes this young staff can match up against the Phillies great staff.

With the trade that sent Matt Garza to Chicago, Shields was left as the number two starter with the most experience out of the five pitchers. Coming off the worst year of his career, he has performed exceptionally well and has quietly become one of the best pitchers in the game. His performance is one of the few reasons why the Rays are keeping up with the Yankees.

The sad fact is that nobody is talking about him. The focus has been on CC Sabathia, Jon Lester, and the "Four Horsemen" in Philadelphia. The no hitters by Justin Verlander and Francisco Liriano have drawn attention to the Central division, and nobody is talking about the Rays at all. Fact is, Shields has the eighth best ERA, 2.01, in the league ( fourth best in the AL), is third in the league in innings pitched (60.2), and is tenth in the league in WHIP (0.93). He has better numbers then the likes of Giants P Tim Lincecum, Yankees P CC Sabathia, and even Rays "ace" David Price.

The only way Shields will get the credit he deserves is if the Rays continue to win. In a tough division filled with some of the best hitters in baseball, it will be hard for him to continue at this great pace. However, if he can continue to succeed as the number two in Tampa and the Rays continue to win, people may finally realize how good of a pitcher he really is.



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It's ok, we (the Rays) like to fly under the radar..wait til we drop our nuclear bomb!!

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